40 Years at ICS

International Conference Services Ltd. (ICS) was established in 1976 in Vancouver, Canada, and 2016 marked our 40th Anniversary in the events industry. To celebrate this, we created a 40th Anniversary Photobook, which highlights some of our favourite memories and major milestones that we have achieved throughout the years.

Over the next few months, we will be releasing these 40 stories on our website and on social media.These stories are not only a celebration of the past 40 years and all that has been accomplished, but also a commemoration of all of the hard work and dedication (and let's not forget fun!) that our entire team has been a part of since the beginning.

To everyone who is and has been a part of our ICS family - our clients, suppliers and our internal team - Thank You for coming along this journey with us and here's to the next 40 years!

19. Let's get digital - digital. I wanna get digital...

In 2014, WebCoast Events Inc. was established as a separate entity in order to meet the growing demand from both ICS and even 'friendly competitors' to provide online education options to their clients. The company received a kickstart by leveraging services developed by another subsidiary of ICS, Global Online Learning Discussion Ltd. (GOLD) - which develops online continuing education programs exclusively for maternal-child healthcare professionals.

WebCoast primarily creates and manages Webinars and Virtual Library Systems (working with existing client materials or recording physical conferences) for a variety of professional associations. Secondly, WebCoast builds Event and e-Commerce Websites, Registration Systems, develops Online Marketing Strategies and performs all Graphic Design Services for ICS Clients.

We are so happy to have such a strong relationship with ICS in particular, and to work with such a diverse range of international clients! Professional highlights for our team are definitely when we head onsite with clients. This is a welcome break from our coding, designing and general techno-wizardry behind the scenes - it's so rewarding to see the delegates enjoy the experience we have helped design.

18. IASLC WCLC 2013 Sydney, Australia - Winner of the Australian Conference of the Year Award

ICS manages many meetings around the world and usually does not submit them for awards, but after seeing what ICS and the Local Organizers had put together for WCLC 2013, Lyn Lewis-Smith, CEO of Business Events Sydney, decided to put the conference forward for a prestigious award...and we won!

The IASLC World Conference on Lung Cancer 2013, organized by ICS, was named CIM Magazine's Best Meeting or Conference at the Australian Event Awards in 2014.

Held from October 27 - 30, 2013, the conference attracted 5,331 lung cancer professionals from around the world to Sydney, Australia. The conference also posted a record 2,122 abstract submissions. The conference is hosted by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) and ICS has a long standing partnership with them. It is always such a pleasure for us to work with them.

We were thrilled when this conference was honoured with such a prestigious award. IASLC WCLC 2013 Conference President Michael Boyer said of the conference, 

"Working with ICS and Business Events Sydney to deliver the World Conference on Lung Cancer was a great experience. It truly highlighted to me the importance of having an experienced and cohesive team to make events such as this one a success (Business Events Sydney, November 12th, 2014)."

We couldn't agree more!

17. A Leap into the Online Conference World

In 2011, Global Online Learning Discussion Ltd. was acquired from Health e-Learning located in Australia. Online since 2007, the first ICS-run GOLD Lactation Online Conference was held in the spring of 2012.

In the fall of 2013, the first GOLD Perinatal Online Conference was born and by 2015, it had expanded again with the first GOLD Midwifery Online Conference. 2015 also saw the launch of the GOLD Learning website, which is an archival host of evidence based education, largely sourced from the annual GOLD conference and industry partnerships.

Since 2012, the GOLD team has grown from a two person operation to a group of ten employees and contractors and we can't wait to see how the company will continue to grow in the coming years!

16. An Office Proposal!

At approximately 4:45pm on February 10, 2012, I was starting to wrap up for the day when my colleague Jessica Ng knocked on my office door, handing me a bottle of champagne, flowers and a mysterious letter...

The letter was from my boyfriend Matt, who I thought was giving me an early present for my upcoming birthday two days later, on February 12th. When I finished reading the note there was another knock. I turned around and Matt was standing there with two champagne glasses. He walked into my office, got down on one knee and proposed. As in ICS fashion, everyone in the office was standing in the hallway watching the entire thing and cheered when I said yes.

Matt and I were married on July 7, 2012. We welcomed our son, Alexander, into the family on February 16, 2015.

~ Zoie Jansen

15. Client Spotlight - Dr. Lawrence Einhorn

Dr. Lawrence Einhorn has been involved in many past World Conferences on Lung Cancer and is an esteemed member of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer.

His distinguished career took off in 1974, when he tested a drug called Cisplatin with two additional drugs that were effective in killing testis cancer cells. This combination became the cure for testicular cancer, which up until then had an overall survival rate of just 5%.

With the use of these three drugs, tumors dissolved within days and shortened the duration of treatment from two years of therapy to just nine to twelve weeks. Dr. Einhorn's work now serves as a research roadmap for generations of oncologists.

Dr. Einhorn has received countless honours throughout his career. He is currently a Professor of Medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine and one of the world's most famous oncologists.

Working with people like Dr. Einhorn makes our job at ICS so rewarding and fulfilling. By organizing superior conferences, ICS is helping to facilitate change in the world, so doctors like Dr. Einhorn have the opportunity to meet with like minded people to discuss advancements in the treatment of deadly diseases such as lung cancer.

At ICS, we are "Connecting people to facilitate change in the world" and there isn't a more perfect example of a person who has dedicated their life to facilitating such impactful changes in our world. 

*Information adapted from www.canceriu.edu

15. Client Spotlight - Dr. Orlando E. Silva

In 2010 and 2012, International Conference Services was appointed as the professional conference organizer for the Inter-American Breast Cancer Conference (IABCC). We were so honoured to have had the pleasure of working alongside Conference Chair Dr. Orlando E. Silva.

Dr. Silva is a highly regarded physician around the world for his publication Breast Cancer: A Practical Guide, which is one of the most significant texts in the education of breast cancer to this day.

In addition to his scientific accomplishments, Dr. Silva is also extremely active with various charities and foundations. In 2001, Dr Silva founded the Emmaus Medical Mission which has sponsored 43 medical missions to South America, Central America and Africa. In 2002, Dr. Silva also founded Silva's Army, a community of thousands of people focused on patient advocacy, education and fundraising, for the American Cancer Society and other cancer fighting initiatives. Among many of his incredible accomplishments, Dr. Silva was the recipient of the Outstanding Hispanic Award at the Americano's First Annual Hispanic Forum, held in Washington, DC in 2010, and the Hispanic Philanthropist Leader Award by Philantroguia in Miami at Northern Trust Bank in 2014.

ICS has been so inspired by Dr. Silva's incredible work that ICS has supported his foundation Misioneros del Camino on several occasions.

Dr. Silva is now based out of the new Cancer Center at Larking Community Hospital in South Miami, Florida, and we are so honoured to have had the opportunity to work with someone who has made such an impact on the lives of millions living with Breast Cancer.

*Information adapted from www.larkinhospital.com 

15. Client Spotlights - Dr. Frances Shepherd

ICS is honoured to work with many outstanding professionals and individuals who are striving towards changing the world. We have formalized our business purpose to "Connecting people to facilitate change in the world" and as big of a purpose as that sounds, our clients have proven to us time and time again that this is exactly what we are doing, together.

Here we are spotlighting three clients that are representing all of the great people who have had the privilege to work with, or who we will be working with in the near future - that truly make huge changes in our world.

Dr. Frances Shepherd - A Canadian Honour

ICS is honoured to be working with Dr. Frances Shepherd who is the IASLC 19th World Conference on Lung Cancer 2018 Honorary Chair which will take place in Toronto. Dr. Frances Shepherd is a longstanding member and past president of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer and has been a frequent Speaker at many WCLC conferences in the past.

Dr. Shepherd is one of Princess Margaret Cancer Centre's top medical oncologists who was recently named Officer of the Order of Canada, a distinguished honour along with many other exceptional high-achieving Canadians.

Dr. Shepherd has been recognized for her leadership in improving treatments for individuals who are living with advanced lung cancer. Throughout her esteemed career, Dr. Shepherd has acquired a lengthy list of achievements including the O. Harold Warwick prize for her contributions to Cancer Control in Canada, the Order of Ontario, the Premier's Summit Award for Medical Research, the British Thoracic Oncology Group International Award for Contributions to Lung Cancer and the Claude Jacquillat Award from the International Congress on Anti-Cancer treatment. She has also been an investigator in more than 100 clinical trials and has co-authored dozens of articles for medical journals.

*Information adapted from the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation website www.thepmcf.ca

14. ICS Manages the First International Conference at the New Vancouver Convention Centre (VCC)

ICS managed the International Congress of the Transplantation Society (TTS) in Vancouver in 2010. This was the first large conference held in the new Convention Centre, and ICS had the privilege of participating in the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony with Congress Chair Dr. Paul Keown. A piece of that ribbon is framed at the ICS office in Vancouver and we are proud to have been a strong partner of the Vancouver Convention Centre ever since.

Previous to the development of the new Vancouver Convention Centre, the Vancouver Tourism Industry had been advocating for an overall expansion of the convention centre for many years. 

When Vancouver won the Olympic Games in 2010, the funds were finally released to build this world class new facility called "VCC West". 

The expansion of the VCC has been an incredible success story and probably one of the best uses of any of the Olympic venues.

The centre has also opened Vancouver up to host countless meetings that it was not able to host before. Some of these include events managed by ICS like FIGO and IDF. Not only has the new VCC put us on the map as an international conference destination, it has also been a powerful economic driver for the city of Vancouver.

TTS was a very successful congress, attracting nearly 5,000 delegates to the city. The VCC was the perfect venue that combined beautiful architecture and design with the unmatched service of a world class staff.

13. Expanding ICS Worldwide

When International Conference Services was created in 1976, most meetings were organized locally. Steady changes in the industry lead by improvements in technology increased opportunities for ICS to manage conferences across Canada and around the world. In the past 7 years, ICS has opened five branches to support its national and international growth. 

ICS had a great reputation with international associations and a large number of them are headquartered in Europe. The branches have brought ICS closer to those important European clients.

Due to strong industry ties in the Austrian market, ICS opened its first European branch in Vienna in 2010. That same year, it opened a branch in Denver, followed by a second Canadian branch in Toronto.

The recent merge with Judy Lane Consulting in July 2016 was an excellent fit for both companies and created additional branches in two of the top global meeting destinations in Europe - London and Barcelona. ICS is focused on integrating these new teams into the ICS culture and growing the offices. ICS has always grown organically. It capitalizes on any opportunity that supports the overall Business Plan and makes efficient use of company resources.

At ICS, branches work closely with the Vancouver headquarters. Everyone works together on projects and interacts on a daily basis. At ICS, branch offices to not work independently, but are part of the greater ICS family.

12. Expanding the ICS Client Base

In June 2009, ICS acquired the Education and Career Fairs (ECF) to expand its client base and promote Co-operative Education opportunities for high school students in British Columbia. ECF provides students in Abbotsford, Kelowna, Kamloops, Nanaimo and Vancouver with a platform to connect with businesses for work and study opportunities at home and abroad.

ICS believes great employees are the foundation for a successful company, and this begins with youth. ECF carries the noble cause of providing young B.C. residents with guidance for their future careers, therefore, ECF was a perfect addition to the company's offering.

By 2015, ECF grew to attract over 11,000 attendees. ECF celebrates its 20th anniversary this year with a fresh look, and is proudly recognized by Business in Vancouver as one of the "Top 10 Tradeshows" in Metro Vancouver in 2015 and 2016 (by attendance).

The ECF team at ICS is proud to announce the re-launch of their website. To take a look, or to learn more about the 2017 Education and Career Fairs, please click here.

11. An Emotional Tribute to Doctors Working to Fight Lung Cancer

At the Gala Dinner of the World Conference on Lung Cancer in 2009 in San Francisco, California, USA, delegates were mesmerized by a performance with one of the star sopranos of the San Francisco Opera - Zheng Cao. She entered the stage, a passionate and powerful singer, set to deliver a breathtaking performance from the Opera Carmen. The audience - doctors and professionals from the Lung Cancer field - loved her and gave a standing ovation.

She then turned to the audience and told them her story: She was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and that one of the members of the Local Organizing Committee was her treating physician. She wanted to thank the people in the room as she felt that her doctor was her anchor.

For them, she sang the song "You Never Walk Alone". There wasn't a dry eye in the room. For the grand finale, she sang "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" in a duet with the daughter of Conference Co-Chair David Jablons. It was one of the most emotional experiences of any of our conferences and delegates still talk about it today.

The ICS Team got to know Zheng Cao very well and she was one of the warmest people we ever worked with. We hugged her good-bye with a heavy heart after the Conference. Her treatments were successful for a while and things looked up but sadly Zheng Cao passed away in early 2013. We will never forget the special evening she provided for our delegates and for all of us.

10. The Beach Boys Rock the House!

It's not everyday that conference delegates get to experience a performance by The Beach Boys (yes, the actual Beach Boys!).

At the World Conference on Lung Cancer in 2009 in San Francisco, California, USA, this was just the case, as this world famous band took to the stage after the Gala Dinner, and let's be honest, what's more Californian than The Beach Boys!

Françoise, our social event planner extraordinaire, was responsible for securing The Beach Boys for this conference. To say that it provided a memorable "Wow Factor" for the conference delegates would be nothing short of an understatement.

The WCLC delegates had a fantastic time, revelling in in some of The Beach Boys' most famous hits. Some of the delegates even took to dancing on their chairs, and at one point, even the tables!

Françoise said of The Beach Boys, "They were all extremely professional, super approachable and down to earth."

Carl Wilson, an original member of The Beach Boys, sadly passed away after a battle with Lung Cancer in 1998, so performing for a group of medical professionals working to eradicate Lung Cancer was very special for them, too.

When WCLC returned to the USA in 2015, the ICS team from Denver matched The Beach Boys performance with the equally impressive Kool and the Gang! 

9. The Austrian Connection

"I first met Franziska, the previous owner and president of ICS, at the IAPCO General Assembly in February 2006 in Mexico City. We chatted and instantly connected as we were both Austrian. Franziska soon asked me to come to Vancouver to take over the management of ICS but I declined as I was happy where I was. Shortly after, Franziska "tricked" me into coming to Vancouver for some "relaxing days" after a meeting we managed in Toronto in September 2006. This is where I met Iain.

Franziska arranged a lunch at the Vancouver Club where I would meet her business partner, Iain Mackay and where they offered me the position of Managing Directer at ICS. I was so surprised that I asked for some time to consider.

I decided to accept the offer to join ICS on a balcony in Rhodes, Greece, about a month later, with a bottle of red wine and my good friend and later Manager of ICS Europe, Inge Tremmel. We were in Greece for the ICCA Congress. Franziska was downstairs in the hotel bar with Christine Mackay, Iain's daughter. I went down to tell her the good news and we celebrated there and then. 

I arrived in Vancouver in March 2007 and was thrown right in as Managing Director. Franziska departed shortly after and I took over as President. On January 1, 2008, Iain made me partner."

Unbeknownst to Franziska, Iain, and Mathias; the Vancouver Club - where their initial meeting took place, would also be the hosting venue for our 40th Anniversary party which took place last year!

8. How Iain met Franziska

Franziska first met Iain MacKay, present Chairman of the Board for ICS, through one of her girlfriends. Gisela Maskell. Gisela had just sold her travel agency to Iain's wife, when Franziska was considering selling her own company. Gisela recommended that Franziska get in touch with Iain as she thought he might be interested in buying her company.

A few weeks later, Franziska and Iain met over coffee and they found themselves getting along extremely well and exchanging financial and procedural information about ICS. Franziska's dedication and hard work had built ICS into a leader in the events industry and Iain knew that this was an opportunity he could not pass up.

Within just three months, Franziska sold her company to Iain. It was agreed that Franziska would stay on for two more years (three days per week), allowing Iain sufficient time to find a replacement.

However, Franziska ended up staying longer, as it was a near impossible task for Iain to find a replacement with Franziska's knowledge and expertise. Little did Iain know that Franziska secretly had someone in mind and had already started her subtle recruitment process.

Fast forward a few months later and Mathias was introduced as the new Managing Director of ICS...and so his journey began...

7. The Start of a Career

Petra Feistl, Senior Conference Manager in our Vienna Office, had always wanted to combine her passion for travelling with her work. So, the decision to complete her Master's Degree in Tourism and Leisure Time Management in Austria was an easy one.

Her love for organizing conferences was finally anchored during her internship at ICS in 2004, and from this point on she knew that being in this fascinating industry was the right path for her.

ICS takes pride in our dedicated internship programs which have allowed dozens of people the opportunity to begin their careers. Many of our past interns still work here today or have gone on to do fantastic things in the industry.

During her internship, Petra worked in the Registration & Housing department closely with Françoise and two other interns from Germany. Her main project was the European Space Agency (ESA) Congress in Vancouver. The Congress saw approximately 5,000 delegates!

"This Congress was my greatest learning experience. It was my first truly international Congress and everything that comes with it. There was a great sense of teamwork, working late hours and enjoying the occasional pizza party! I have to say a huge thank you to Françoise and the Congress Managers from back then, as they really allowed us interns to learn how a huge Congress like this is organized and it really taught me the importance of internal team communication."

To this day, Petra keeps in touch with the two other interns, and they have a great friendship. She also still has one of her staff t-shirts to serve as a reminder of her very first, and hugely successful Congress.

After some thoughtful consideration, and even though Petra loved Vancouver she decided to move back to Vienna.

While working for a Professional Conference Organizer in Vienna, in fact, the same PCO where Mathias, our now president, was working at the time, Petra spent four years managing various medical Congresses and events. This made Petra appreciate the importance of being well organized, detail oriented and enthusiastic about your work. A fun fact: Petra was actually interviewed for this position by Mathias, and she was his last hire before he moved over to ICS!

After gaining further experience in communications and administration from an international company for several years, Petra decided it was time to "go back to her roots" and joined the ICS team in Vienna in 2016. She is so excited to be a part of the ICS team again, and is looking forward to many exciting events to come!

6. When ICS Puts Lawyers in Tents

ICS managed the International Bar Association's (IBA) social program back in 1998 including an optional dinner for delegates to attend - but there was a problem; as there was a lack of indoor venues that could facilitate such a sizeable group in the city.

So, Franziska using her creative and imaginative flair, suggested to host the event under a tent at Spanish Banks. With the local mountains and the Pacific Ocean as a natural backdrop, this was the perfect location for a truly "Canadian BBQ Experience". 

The event included checkered tablecloths, drinks, a huge BBQ and line dancing which, to the surprise of everyone, saw the IBA President - usually a very serious man - letting loose on the dance floor!

Just recently, ICS has integrated Judy Lane Consulting into the ICS family, which to this date, is still managing the International Bar Association's events. As you can see in this picture of Franziska and Judy Lane back in 1998, our story of working with Judy Lane has now come full circle. 

5.The Beginning of a Long Standing Relationship

International Conference Services managed the World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC) for the very first time in 2003, which also marks the year that our longstanding relationship with the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) really began.

To this day, WCLC 2003 Conference Chair Dr. Nevin Murray remains a great friend of ICS and Franziska, and IASLC is one of ICS' most important clients. Overall, this conference was hugely successful allowing the association to grow. The social program included a magnificent performance by Cirque du Soleil and a hot air balloon in BC Place during the Gala dinner evening!

4. Franziska Recognized as an Industry Leader

International Conference Services' President Franziska Kaltenegger was featured in WestCoast Magazine.

The article highlighted ICS and former president Franziska's views on ICS' philosophy, on launching a business and what she thought about the future of the events industry. The article was not only a spotlight on our company, but also a fantastic feature on Franziska as a strong and dedicated woman spearheading ICS.

3. World Class Service for World Leaders

In 1999, International Conference Services had the opportunity to work on the Informal Meeting of NATO Defence Ministers which was held in Toronto.

The ICS team, including Franziska and Sandy Biback, built an incredibly strong and trustworthy relationship with the committee even though they had very little lead time to prepare for the actual meeting.

ICS greatly contributed to making the event a huge success. So much so, that both Franziska and Sandy received thank you letters from Bob Corley, of the National Defence Headquarters.

2. Getting into the Sponsorship Game

In the 1990's, ICS raised sponsorship for the first time for a large international conference. This was largely in part to Franziska's new found sponsorship skills...

One million dollars was needed to produce this conference. To do so, Franziska knew that pharmaceutical sponsorship would be key. Determined, she set out on her plan to win as much sponsorship as she could.

To backtrack a little bit, Franziska had never tried to secure sponsorship for any of her past conferences. She asked her client to introduce her to the head of the sales department at a pharmaceutical company, trying to utilize his connections as best as she could to ensure this conference's overall success.

Franziska, along with her client, met the above mentioned sales department head for lunch. She was determined to come out of that meeting with a very substantial amount of sponsorship. Her client, on the other hand, was weary of asking for such a large sum of money and throughout the lunch, he simply avoided asking his pharmaceutical friend for any sponsorship at all! During the lunch, Franziska politely "nudged" her client under the table to kindly remind him of why they were in fact having lunch with this Pharmaceutical representative. When some more time passed and Franziska's client still did not ask the most important question and she realized she would have to be the one to do so.

When the pharmaceutical representative got up to use the restroom, Franziska and her client decided that if they wanted the sponsorship, Franziska would have to ask for it herself.

Expecting the pharmaceutical representative to say no, Franziska and her client were both pleasantly surprised when he agreed without hesitation to sponsor the event. He even hinted that he would have been happy to provide them with even more money than what they had asked for!

Since then, ICS has delivered great sponsorship results for numerous conferences taking place not only in Vancouver, but all around the world.

1. How ICS Came to Be

A little bit of background on how International Conference Services came to be...

...While working at the Hyatt Hotel in Vancouver, Franziska Kaltenegger came across an opportunity to buy a small company. Owning her own business was always something that she had intended to do, so she asked an industry friend to take a leap with her and buy this company. Together, they purchased the company in 1976 and called it CanWest.

Two years passed, and in 1978, Franziska's partner made the decision to begin a family, and thus, Franziska, packed with determination, imagination and drive, decided to keep her company going and push further into the events industry, rebranding CanWest into what we all know today as International Conference Services Ltd. (ICS).

In the early stages of ICS, one of Franziska's friends who worked for Air Canada suggested that she extend her event management services into the world of conferences. In particular, conferences from Europe, an idea which would eventually serve to propel ICS to not only national, but international recognition.

By expanding ICS services from corporate, incentive and destination management into conferences, Franziska was better able to plan for her company's future. By going after and winning conference proposals, Franziska could be strategic about how many events she would need to manage each year, in order to ensure ICS' continued success.

Franziska's determination to succeed has laid the building blocks for how ICS is run today. ICS has been responsible for putting on some amazing conferences all around the world (some of which will be featured here), and all of us at ICS are so appreciative of her guidance and support throughout the years.